Graham Richards (ed)
2012 | 162pp | £30
Reviewed by Jonathan Wills
Among the many texts that have been published recently on the topic of intellectual property exploitation, this books stands out for its focus on innovations developed within universities. Graham Richards, the editor and principal author, writes from experience as a prominent academic, serial inventor and company director. Other authors in this digestible book have been selected for their understanding of university-specific issues.
The initial chapters strike a cautionary note. Historically, attempts by universities to exploit their research have been blighted by extremely poor decision making, and there are all too many examples of lost opportunities and costly mistakes made in the name of university commercialisation. The authors are right to draw the reader’s attention to these many examples, and they emphasise the authors’ call for a careful and considered approach to university innovations.
Later chapters look at the interactions between the university and the commercial world. Here, the role played by technology transfer offices is pivotal. A couple of short and robust chapters highlight the issues that arise and the relationships that must be fostered to realise trouble-free and profitable business collaborations.
The final chapters consider the aim and obligation of universities to develop and disseminate knowledge, and how this might be squared with the divergent aims of the commercial world. These chapters provide interesting reading and give the reader a perspective on how the practices of universities might be adapted to maximise the commercial prospects of university work without limiting knowledge transfer.
The book is an honest and open appraisal of the issues surrounding the commercialisation of university research, and it is well worth a read for those with an interest in its success.